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Church-State Relations and the Book of Revelation
An Introduction to The Parousia: A Careful Look at the New Testament Doctrine of the Lord's Second Coming
by James Stuart Russell (1878) // Written by
Todd Dennis, Curator
 



 

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The effect of the fall of Jerusalem upon the character of the Pharisees

Robert Travers
1860-1950

London : Society for Hebraic Studies

1917

CLICK HERE FOR PDF FILE OF ENTIRE BOOK

A Paper read before the Members of the Society for Hebraic Studies 
London, Feb. 5th, 1917. 



Particulars as to membership of the Society may be obtained en 
application to the Hon. Sec. at : 
BRETHREN I was invited to lecture before the members of this 
Society, I was in doubt whether to accept or to decline. 
The invitation was an honour of which I was, and am, justly 
proud. To comply with it was to face an ordeal more formidable 
than any which I have had to meet for a very long time. What 
can I offer in the field of Hebraic studies which shall contain instruc- 
tion for those who are masters in Israel ? Probably very little. 
Vet even things familiar may have an interest when presented from 
a new point of view, or by one who has arrived at the knowledge 
of them by other than the accustomed paths. Therefore I shall 
pluck up my courage and put before you some of the results of 
such study as I have been able to make, in a region where I must 
grope my way while to you it is in a sense your mother country. 

The subject of my paper is one which has long interested me 
and is also (partly for that reason) the only one on which I could 
write a paper in the very limited time which is all that I can now 
give to my own studies. It approaches very closely the ground 
covered by the opening address of the President of this Society, 
but it will hardly intrude upon that ground. I am greatly indebted 
to the kindness of the President for the opportunity to read his 
lecture again ; and, while I profit by his learning, I shall avoid 
any repetition of what he said, as I shall have a different object in 
view. There is room for many scholars to work upon a period of 
such vital importance for Jewish history, as that which has for 
its central event the fall of Jerusalem, in the year 70 of the 
common era. 

It would be utterly impossible to deal with all the aspects of 
that great disaster, or to trace out all its consequences, in a single 
lecture, even if I had the requisite knowledge. But it will, I hope, 
be possible, within the compass of a modest discourse, to consider 
the effect of the fall of Jerusalem upon the religious and moral 
character of the Pharisees. That is a more manageable subject, 
and one that has a certain interest of its own. For the Pharisees, 



2111312 



as everyone knows, are among the doubtful characters in history, 
those who justly or unjustly have got a bad name. So it has been 
from the days when Christianity began, and more especially, since 
Christianity wrote down its first impressions. And those who have 
tried to account for what they take to be the peculiar features of 
the Pharisaic character, have found part of the explanation in the 
effect produced by the fall of Jerusalem. Moreover, the Pharisees 
were the only survivors who maintained their existence as a religious 
community. That is perhaps not the right word to use ; I mean 
that while other elements in Jewry were represented, after 70, by 
individuals, few or many, the Pharisees were a group, a society, a 
fraternity, conscious of corporate life, common ideals as well as 
common sorrows and sufferings. It was in virtue of this conscious- 
ness of more than individual life that the Pharisees were the one 
element in the nation through whom the life and thought of Israel 
were transmitted to later ages. Other elements in Jewry survived 
with difficulty or dwindled away ; the line of descent from the 
Judaism of the first century to that of the present, came by way of 
the Pharisees. When the Temple was destroyed, the Sadducees, 
as a party or sect or body, necessarily passed away. Traces of 
Sadducean practice and belief can be found in the Rabbinical liter- 
ature ; and no doubt members of Sadducean families maintained 
in their own circles their hereditary modes of thought. But of any 
kind of Sadducean organization or corporate life after 70 there can 
be no question. In regard to other elements in Jewry, Essen es, 
Apocalyptists, Amha-aretz, it is not probable, at least there seems 
no reason to assert, that any sudden and decisive end came upon 
them when the Temple was destroyed. Either they continued to 
exist under the shelter of Pharisaism and found such utterance as 
they could through Pharisaic forms of speech, or else they drew 
away from the main body of Jewry to an obscure independence, 
or drifted off into Christianity or Gnosticism. 

It is thus true to say that the Judaism which survived the 
fall of Jerusalem was in the main Pharisaism. The literature 
of the succeeding centuries is almost wholly Pharisaic, and in 
that literature the religious, moral and intellectual character 
of Pharisaism is depicted with equal clearness and honesty. One 
would think it would be safe to surmise that the Pharisees had 
not widely diverged from the main lines of their original type of 



religious life and character, at any period since Pharisaism first 
appeared, because, the ground principle of Pharisaism was so 
sharply defined, its resultant consequences so clearly drawn, that 
no considerable change could take place in that life and character 
without the transformation of Pharisaism into something which 
could no longer be called by that name. 

But it has been maintained by many scholars that Pharisaism 
did in fact change its character very considerably, and not only so, 
but that one such change was brought about by the fall of Jerusalem. 
It is not agreed whether the Pharisees were better or worse, morally, 
after 70 than they had been before. Some say that they were 
(on the evidence of the New Testament) very bad before 70, and 
that the great disaster administered to them a sort of tonic, which 
enabled them to recover their moral health, and become the more 
respectable people which it is generally admitted they did become. 
On the other hand it is maintained, and notably by Canon Charles, 
that the change produced in Pharisaism by the fall of Jerusalem 
was a change for the worse. Truly, a hard judgment if they were 
already as bad as they are represented in the New Testament, 
a representation which Canon Charles would presumably admit as 
correct. 

Canon Charles is a scholar whose words carry so much weight, 
that many who read them will take as sound and certain whatever 
he declares to be historical fact. It is the more important 
therefore to show that his theory about the degeneration of Pharis- 
aism does not meet the case, does not fit in with the facts, and does 
not explain them at any period in the history of Pharisaism. It is 
this theory which I wish to examine, and in so doing to present 
what I hold to be the true, or at least the more nearly true, solution 
of the problem. 

I will come straight to the point, and show what the problem 
is, by quoting some sentences by Canon Charles in which he puts 
forward his view that Pharisaism underwent a change for the 
worse after, and apparently in consequence of, the fall of Jerusalem. 

In the preface to his edition of the Book of Enoch, published 
in 1912, he writes as follows : " I cannot help expressing here my 
deep regret at the backwardness of Jewish scholars in recognizing 
the value of this literature (i.e. the Apocalyptic) for their own 
history. Apocalyptic is the true child of prophecy, and became its 



true representative to the Jews from the unhappy moment when the 
Law won an absolute autocracy in Judaism, and made the utterance 
of God-sent prophetic men impossible, except through the medium 
of pseudepigraphs, some of which, like Daniel, gained an entrance, 
despite the Law, into the O. T. Canon. 

"It is true that eminent Jewish scholars, in America and 
elsewhere, have in part recognised the value of Apocalyptic literature ; 
but as a whole, orthodox Judaism still confesses and still champions 
the one-sided Judaism which came into being after the fall of 
Jerusalem in 70 A.D., a Judaism lopped in the main of Us spiritual 
and prophetic side, and given over all but wholly, to a legalistic 
conception of religion. It is not strange that since that disastrous 
period, Judaism became to a great extent a barren faith, and lost its 
leadership in the spiritual things of the world." * 

Also, in Vol. II of the great Oxford edition of the Apocrypha, 
in the general Introduction (p. vii), Canon Charles writes : " Legal- 
istic Pharisaism, in time, drove out almost wholly the Apocalyptic 
element as an active factor, though it accepted some of its develop- 
ments, and became the parent of Talmudic Judaism ; whereas, 
Apocalyptic Judaism developed more and more the Apocalyptic 
i.e., the prophetic utterance, and in the process came to recognise, 
as in IV Ezra, the inadequacy of the Law for Salvation. From this 
it follows that the Judaism that survived the destruction of the 
Temple, being wholly bereft of the Apocalyptic wing which had 
passed over into Christianity, was not the same as the Judaism of 
an earlier date." 

And finally, on page 690, of that same volume, in an editorial 
note after the Introduction to my translation of the Pirke Aboth, 
he says : " The student should bear in mind that Rabbinical 
Pharisaism after the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D., differs 
largely from the Pharisaism before that date." 

These quotations serve to express the deliberate and considered 
opinion of Canon Charles, viz., that a change for the worse came 
over the character of Judaism in general, and Pharisaism in partic- 
ular after, and in consequence of, the fall of Jerusalem. We are 
clearly right in saying that the alleged change came about in 
consequence of the fall of Jerusalem, because it was that event 
which made the continued existence of the Sadducees an irnpos- 
* Italics mine. R.T.H. 



ability. And when Canon Charles contends that the Judaism 
after 70 was spiritually poorer than the Judaism before 70, it is 
chiefly the presence or absence of Sadducees which make the 
difference. 

Let us, however, examine, first of all, the passages I have just 
quoted from Dr. Charles, and try to form a clear notion of what 
they imply. In the preface to Enoch he speaks of an "unhappy 
moment when the Law won an absolute autocracy in Judaism, and 
made the utterances of God-sent prophetic men impossible, except 
through the medium of pseudepigraphs, some of which like Daniel, 
gained an entrance despite the Law, into the O.T. Canon. " The 
period indicated in that very involved sentence is, of course, the 
period of, and after, Ezra. But it is surely a begging of the question 
to assert that the autocracy of the Law made impossible the utter- 
ance of God-sent prophetic men, except these pseudepigraphs. 
Since when, I would ask, have " God-sent prophetic men " waited 
for permission to say whatever they had got to say ? Imagine 
Isaiah or Amos being compelled to disguise his message, or give 
it under an assumed name because the Law had become supreme 
and would not tolerate the free prophetic utterance. Isaiah could 
say sharp things about the sacrifices ; he would have said equally 
sharp things about any other alleged divine institution which 
hindered him from speaking in the name of the Lord. So, if there 
had been any, in the period after Ezra, who had felt himself moved 
to speak or write as the pre-exilic prophets had done, he would have 
made himself heard, Law or no Law. But it is idle to talk of any 
such opposition. If there were no prophets after the ancient 
manner, in the times when the Law was supreme, there was no 
need of prophecy of that type, and there was need of men of the 
type who actually appeared, viz., the Sopherim. They were the 
lawful descendants of the prophets, even if they shared the 
inheritance with the Apocalyptists of whom more presently. If the 
author of a pseudepigraph, like Daniel, chose to write in that parti- 
cular style, the reason seems to be precisely that he had not got 
the ancient prophetic fervour, and could only gain a hearing by a 
literary artifice. 

However, let us follow Dr. Charles a little further. Here 
was the Law, as he said, wielding an absolute autocracy in Judaism. 
If the effect was to make free prophetic utterances impossible, and 



8 

to that extent to sterilise the spiritual life, how came there to be 
any spiritual life left in the Judaism, so late as the year 70 ? We 
used to be taught that such a sterilisation did in fact take place, 
and that the very objectionable Pharisees portrayed in the New 
Testament are the proof of it. But that will not suit Dr. Charles, 
for he asks us to recognise that the Judaism before 70 was possessed 
of a considerable degree of spiritual vitality and energy. Where 
did all that come from, if the autocracy of the Law had really been 
so fatal to spiritual h'fe as he said ? He cannot have it both ways, 
and if he is to show some disastrous loss of religious efficiency after 
70, he must admit that it was there before 70. If it had been present 
in the Judaism before Ezra, then the autocracy of the Law did not 
stamp it out. If it grew up in the time after Ezra, then what about 
the fatal influence of the Law ? 

So far, Dr. Charles' theory of the development of Judaism 
has not fared very well. By the time we get to the year 70, we have 
once more a change for the worse, and an even more remarkable one 
than that just criticised. The Judaism before 70 was enriched by 
the presence of various elements Sadducees and Pharisees, Essenes, 
Apocalyptists, and many types for whom no special name is reserved. 
The Judaism which came into being after 70, was, says Dr. Charles, 
" A Judaism lopped in the main of its spiritual and prophetic side, and 
given over all but wholly to a legalistic conception of religion. It is 
not strange that since that disastrous period Judaism became, to a 
great extent, a barren faith, and l-ost its leadership in the spiritual 
things of the world." 

When Dr. Charles says that the spiritual and prophetical side was 
wanting in the post -70 Judaism, he means that the Apocalyptic 
element was gone, or at least, that it soon disappeared. As a matter 
of fact, the only element which had really vanished was Sadducee- 
ism ; and whatever strong points the Sadducees had, spiritual 
fervour is not usually reckoned amongst them. Spiritually, Judaism 
stood to gain rather than to lose, by the disappearance of the 
Sadducees. As for the Apocalyptists, whatever they had to contribute 
of spiritual value, was available for the Judaism after 70, as it had 
been for the Judaism befbre 70. It is true that the prevailing 
character of the later Judaism was what is called legalistic, and not 
Apocalyptic ; but the Apocalyptic element did not wholly disappear 
for a long time. Whatever, therefore, may have been the character 



of the pre-7O Judaism, its spiritual poverty after that date is less 
apparent than Dr. Charles makes out. And, if it was only after the 
year 70 that Judaism " lost its leadership in the spiritual things 
of the world/' then presumably it still held that leadership down to 
the year 70, which is a rather surprising admission on the part 
of one who attaches to the events of the preceding half-century 
the importance which a Christian might be expected to attach to 
them. That is a side issue, into which I shall not enter on the 
present occasion. 

Dr. Charles' main contention amounts to this : that Judaism was 
spiritually rich or poor according as the Apocalyptic element was 
or was not present as a main constituent of it. Apocalyptic came 
in, because the Law made prophecy impossible in any other form. 
And Apocalyptic went out, apparently because the Law proved too 
strong for it in the long run. But in any case, in the centuries 
during which Apocalyptic flourished, there was hope for Judaism ; 
it was still spiritually alive. After Apocalyptic disappeared, then 
Judaism became spiritually dead. That is, as I understand it, 
Dr. Charles' interpretation of the history of Judaism before and after 
the year 70. It would be unjust to say that the whole theory is 
constructed in the interests of Apocalyptic, and to exalt that 
particular type of Jewish thought of which Dr. Charles is the chief 
exponent at the present day. But, if he knew the Rabbinical 
literature as he knows the very much more accessible and more easily 
managed Apocalyptic literature, he would not have put forward 
a theory so wide of the mark as I believe his to be. It is hardly 
indeed to be expected that anyone who can see in the Apocalyptic 
literature the splendid and wonderful qualities which Dr. Charles 
discerns there, should be able to read the deeper meaning of the 
Rabbinical literature, the Halachah which to the Gentile is a 
stumbling block, and the Haggadah which he deems to be foolishness. 
But until the Gentile (in this case, Dr. Charles and his school) .does learn 
the secret of the Talmud and the Midrash, he will try in vain to 
solve the problem of the post~7o Judaism by the key of Apocalyptic 
alone. All he can discern is this, that after 70, the prevailing Judaism 
did not encourage the Apocalyptic type of teaching ; it therefore 
gradually disappeared and went elsewhere, to people who could 
better appreciate its peculiar qualities, and who no doubt looked 
upon it with more favour because Judaism did not like it. But 



10 

he can give no explanation of why Rabbinical Judaism disapproved 
of Apocalyptic, and why it devoted itself to Halachah and Haggadah. 
He believes that in his Apocalyptic writings, is to be found the 
only answer possible from the side of orthodox Judaism to the 
problem presented by the disaster of 70, considered as a divine 
appointment. He has no glimpse of the real answer which the 
Rabbis, from Johanan ben Zaccai onwards, gave to that problem, 
and which had in it a strength of faith and courage and even hope, 
that no Apocalyptic ever possessed. 

We are thus brought to a point where Apocalyptic and 
Rabbinic Judaism are seen as in some sense opposed to each other; 
both are included within the range of Pharisaism, but they represent 
two types of character, and of these two types one gradually prevailed 
over the other. Both were present in the Pharisaism before 70, 
and the effect of the fall of Jerusalem was (if I understand it aright) , 
to strengthen the one type and weaken the other. I do not mean 
that the fall of Jerusalem was ever felt to be other than a disaster 
and a grievous affliction by any Pharisee. I mean that in consequence 
of the fall of Jerusalem, the Pharisaism which developed the 
Halachah gradually found itself stronger, and was able to endure 
through the evil days, while the Pharisaism which clung to 
Apocalyptic gradually lost heart, and so far as Judaism was concerned, 
died away altogether. Both these types of Pharisaism had been 
present before the fall of Jerusalem, and had probably added their 
share to the strife and jealousy which rent the unhappy city into 
rival factions. It is a miserable picture which Josephus draws, 
of the state of things in Jerusalem, while the Romans were pressing 
on the siege. If only the rival parties could have made common 
cause against the enemy, instead of cutting one another's throats. 
One thing, however, is plain amidst much that is obscure. There 
was a large and influential party of what we should call " pacifists," 
who if they could have had their way would have endured the full 
weight of Roman oppression, rather than go to war. These pacifists 
probably included the majority of the Pharisees. Certainly the 
leading Pharisees of the time belonged to the peace party. But 
the war party while more varied in its composition, must have 
included some Pharisees some who took the line which, sixty 
years later, Aqiba took in the war of Barcochba. They were entirely 
devoted to the main principle of Pharisaism, but did not find in 



II 

that principle a reason why they should refrain from fighting when 
the heathen threatened with destruction the chosen people. Phar- 
isees of this type found themselves in alliance with the Zealots, who 
were not necessarily Pharisees at all. Other sections of the nation 
ranged themselves on one side or the other, but with them I have 
no present concern. I am dealing only with the two types of 
Pharisees involved in the war. They represented, as Schiirer has 
pointed out somewhere, two different conceptions of the true function 
of Israel. On the one hand there was the view that the duty of Israel, 
(and of every Israelite) was simply to serve God by living in accord- 
ance with the Torah ; fulfilling the divine precepts and " walking 
before the I^ord with a perfect heart blameless." On the other 
hand there was the view that since Israel was the chosen people of 
God, there was a duty for Israel to do in regard to all the nations, 
and that it would be a betrayal of trust if Israel were to allow, 
without a struggle, the triumph of the heathen and their own defeat. 
With ideas of that kind they would take up arms, when the war 
broke out, and would perhaps expect, during the course of it, that 
some sudden divine intervention would give victory to Israel and 
hurl down the enemy to destruction. If Israel was indeed the 
chosen people, how could it be thought that God would abandon 
them in their deadly peril ? On the other hand, the Pharisees of 
the pacifist type would see in the war only a grievous increase in an 
evil already great, an increase which could have been avoided, and 
could, even afterwards, be mitigated by humble submission to the 
will of God as expressed through the power of Rome. They would 
have no interest in prolonging the struggle, and no hope of success in 
doing so. They would not expect any divine intervention to secure 
victory for Israel, and probably their wish was that the war might be 
over as soon as possible. 

Now of these two classes of Pharisees, the pacifist party is 
clearly identical with that which developed the Halachah, and 
Rabbinic Judaism generally. Of this, there can be no doubt. The 
other party, I suggest, is to be identified with the Apocalyptists. 
I mean that those who wrote the Apocalyptic books which have 
come down to us, held some such view of the function of Israel as I 
have suggested, and might be expected to take up arms rather than 
allow the sanctuary to be defiled. I do not know whether any 
actual Apocalyptic writer was amongst those who fought in the 



12 

last struggle of Jerusalem. I only mean that those of the Pharisees 
who did so, being in sympathy with the war party, were of the 
same circle or group or way of thinking as that to which the 
Apocalyptists belonged. 

The story of the fall of Jerusalem is told in detail by Josephus ; 
and anyone who has studied the Rabbinical literature will know 
that while there are very many allusions to it, no connected and 
consistent history of the siege could possibly be made out from that 
literature. Of course, the men who created the Talmud and the 
Midrash were not primarily concerned to write history, and might 
on that ground be excused for not having left a detailed account 
of the siege. But there is a remarkable detachment in many of 
their utterances, as if they were by no means so closely concerned 
as to be unable to judge fairly of what had taken place. There are 
countless expressions of grief and dismay at the destruction of the 
Temple and the capture of the city. But there are also admissions 
that the Temple had been already profaned by worldly and wicked 
men, and that the city had become no fit place for a holy people. 
It might even be that God Himself had given the city and the Temple 
over to the spoiler, because they had ceased to be needful for His 
purposes towards Israel. The Pharisees of the Rabbinic type were 
not so crushed down by the disaster but that they could see a meaning 
in it which was not without its lesson of hope. To write history 
was still less the purpose of the Apocalyptists than it was of 
the Rabbis. The allusions in the Apocalypses to the siege of 
Jerusalem, or to current events generally, are less frequent and 
less detailed than the anecdotes of the Midrash. Both literatures 
were the work of men who felt too deeply the spiritual burden 
laid upon the heart and soul of Israel, to have much concern for 
the historical description of it. And both literatures are the 
expression of the way in which that spiritual burden was variously 
apprehended, and of the means by which the several writers 
taught their countrymen to bear it. 

Israel, the chosen people of God, crushed beneath the power 
of the triumphant Roman, her capital city taken, all her political 
eminence gone, having no longer a Temple or its duly performed 
sacrifices, Israel flung into the dust of utter humiliation, exposed 
in the person of her people to every kind of suffering, while Israel's 
God was silent and made no sign that was the stupendous fact 



13 

to which in some way Israel had to adjust itself. In the answer 
given by Apocalyptists and Rabbinists respectively to this great 
problem is expressed the effect of the fall of Jerusalem upon the 
religious life and thought of the Pharisees ; and I shall spend the 
remainder of the time in developing the two answers. I will take 
first the Apocalyptic answer, partly because it is alleged by Dr. 
Charles that this was the only answer (other than mere sullen silence) 
which Pharisaism was able to make ; and partly because I hold it 
to be the less important answer, and I wish to end, if I may put 
it so, on the major chord of the Talmud rather than on the minor 
chord of the Apocalypse. 

Of the Apocalyptic writings, the one which is especially import- 
ant for the present purpose is that known as IV Ezra, with which 
may be included the Apocalypse of Baruch. These were written 
not more than a generation after 70, and IV Ezra avowedly deals with 
the religious problems created by the fall of Jerusalem. Dr. Charles 
holds that the writer recognised the inadequacy of the I/aw for 
salvation. I doubt if the writer himself would accept that inter- 
pretation of his words : but he certainly showed that he had not 
found a solution of his problems, either in the lyaw or anywhere else. 
He beheld Israel to whom had been given the I^aw, despised and 
rejected, while the heathen whose sins were far greater were allowed 
to go scot free. " How does it profit us," he says (vii, 117) " that 
in the present we must live in grief and after death look for punish- 
ment ? How does it profit us that the eternal age is promised to 

us, whereas we have done the works that bring death ? And that 
there is foretold to us an imperishable hope, whereas we are so 
miserably brought to futility ? And that there are reserved 
habitations of health and safety, whereas we have lived wickedly ? 
And that the glory of the Most High is to defend them that have 
led a pure life, whereas we have walked in ways most wicked ? 
And that Paradise, whose fruit endures incorruptible, wherein is 
delight and healing, shall be made manifest, but we cannot enter it 

because we have passed our lives in unseemly ways For while 

we lived and committed iniquity, we considered not what we were 
destined to suffer after death." 

The writer is told by the angel who is justifying to him the 
ways of God, that " such is the condition of the contest which 
every man who is born upon earth must wage ; that, if he be 



14 

overcome, he shall suffer as thou hast said ; and if he be victorious 
he shall receive what / have said." 

The writer has little to say by way of consolation or encourage- 
ment. He makes Ezra challenge the divine justice and mercy, as 
seen in the fate of Israel, only to be told that the Most High cares 
but for the few righteous who will finally enjoy the bliss of the 
world to come, and that He takes no account of the many sinners 
who will perish. For those who suffer, as all Israel was suffering, 
there was no alleviation except the prospect of the world to come, 
and Ezra might well ask : " How long shall all this endure ? " 

IV Ezra is a mournful book, as indeed it could hardly fail to 
be, if its author was taken up with the sufferings of Israel and the 
attempt to penetrate into the mystery of God's dealing with His 
people. But I can find in it little or no trace of the prophetic 
spirit such as had glowed in the prophets of the olden time. The 
elaborate and artificial symbolism is a poor substitute for the vivid 
poetic imagery of the earlier prophets ; and if I am reminded that 
the beginning of the Apocalyptic manner may be traced even in the 
earlier prophets, I agree, and say that it marked the first symp- 
tom of the decline of prophecy. The extravagance with which 
such symbolism is applied by the Apocalyptists is one cause that 
makes them (or so I find), tedious and- tawdry. IV Ezra is perhaps 
one of the best specimens, but even IV Ezra appears to me to have 
very little in it that can be called original or great. The writer did 
not carry his problem to any higher stage than that on which he 
found it. If he is not to be called a pessimist he has no message 
of hope. No ray of divine light shines in upon the gross darkness 
of the world, except to show how great is the darkness and how far 
off and unapproachable the upper region of the heavenly light. 
As a cry of despair, there is a certain gloomy splendour about this 
Apocalypse ; and it could not be denied a high place among the 
literature of its time. But despair goes hand-in-hand with death. 
And if Israel had nothing else to say, and nothing better to say, 
than is put by this writer into the mouths of Ezra and the Angel, 
and taught in the visions of the Eagle and the heavenly Jerusalem 
and the rest, then Israel would have died and not lived. There 
would have been an end of the nation which had suffered so much, 
and its place in the world would have been left vacant. Apocalypse, 
wherever it is found, is a symptom of weakness and not of strength ; 



15 

it is the work of writers whose minds were morbidly overstrained, 
under the pressure of calamity or the burden of the world's evil. 
And while we may well feel profound pity for, and sympathy with, 
the sufferers in such grievous times, we should not be blinded to 
the fact that these are they who were beaten or nearly beaten in 
the strife, and that there were others who did not lose hope and who 
were not beaten; men who bore, as the Apocalyptists bore, the 
very worst that fate could do to them, and who yet stood firm them- 
selves and helped their fellow-men to stand firm, who wrung out of 
the sufferings of their time a lesson of trust in God, which has never 
been more heroically taught and never more faithfully learned and 
practised. The Apocalyptists could only beat against a closed door, 
in the vain hope that some day it might be opened. They could see 
no way out of the evil state in which they were, no way of deliverance 
for the oppressed souls any more than for the suffering bodies of 
their people. They had therefore to give place to others who could 
discern more clearly the needs of the time, and who could offer 
counsel and help instead of mere " mourning, lamentation and woe." 
The Apocalyptists did not give the only answer, still less the best 
answer, that was possible to Pharisaism, as Dr. Charles asserts. 
They gave no doubt the only answer they could. But is it wonder- 
ful that the Pharisees of the Rabbinic type, those who produced in 
course of time the Talmud and the Midrash, should have looked 
with disapproval upon the Apocalyptic style of literature ? That 
they should have allowed to the Apocalyptic writers no place in 
their own literature ? There are indeed in the Rabbinic literature 
occasional passages of Apocalyptic matter ; but nothing that can 
be put in comparison with the elaborate books usually known as 
Apocalypses. So many and so various are the things that can be 
found in the Rabbinic literature that it would be strange if Apoca- 
lyptic had left no trace there. But it is beyond question that the 
whole nature and spirit of the Rabbinic literature is alien from the 
Apocalyptic, and the two could not, and certainly did not, flourish 
together. Apocalyptic found no welcome from the Rabbis. 
They would have none of it. They would not have the sorely -tried 
spirits of their brethren depressed and weakened by the hopeless 
lamentations and troubled dreams of IV Ezra and his kind. So 
Apocalyptic was left to carry its wares to some other market 
Christian, Gnostic, or what not. And as an element in Judaism it 



16 

gradual!}' ceased to exist. Dr. Charles and his followers may lament 
its disappearance and regret that Jewish scholars should so seldom 
and so slightly have recognised its importance for their own history ; 
that they should have disregarded what was a true daughter of 
prophecy and have championed almost exclusively the one sided 
Judaism of the Talmud. May we not say that the Rabbis of the 
times after the fall of Jerusalem knew what they were about in 
rejecting Apocalypse and devoting themselves to Halachah and 
Haggadah ? And that Jewish scholars in our own day who 
have thought but little of Apocalypse and much of the Talmud as 
expressions of the true spirit of Israel, have judged more truly than 
Dr. Charles, which of the two really was of the essence of Judaism. 

I have then, finally, to present the true answer made by Phar- 
isaism to the problem created by the fall of Jerusalem, the effect 
produced by that crushing disaster upon the religious thought and 
life of the Pharisees. I remind you of what is of course well known 
to every scholar who has studied the Rabbinic literature of the period 
but it is none the less deserving of remark : I mean the extraordinary 
ease and rapidity with which (as it would seem) the religious system 
of the Pharisees was adjusted to the changed conditions. Johanan 
ben Zaccai, the spiritual leader of the Pharisees, obtained from 
Vespasian, the town of Jabneh " with its wise men," and permission 
to teach there. He transferred to Jabneh all that could be trans- 
ferred of the prestige of Jerusalem in regard to religion and the 
arrangements of social life. He gathered round him all the teachers 
and scholars of the time, and, in conjunction with them, worked for 
the preservation of the higher life of Israel. 

The fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple was 
an event which no Jew could behold unmoved. The city had been 
the centre of the national existence, and the Temple the most vener- 
ated symbol of its religious life. Grievous indeed must have been 
the sight of their destruction. Johanan ben Zaccai, we are told, 
used to go forth from Jabneh, and look towards Jerusalem when he 
knew that the end was drawing near ; and when he heard at last 
that the Temple was burnt he rent his clothes and mourned over it. 
His grief finds numberless echoes in the literature. The story of 
the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar was told over again, 
with all manner of haggadic additions, and told with evident refer- 
ence to the siege and capture by Titus. The Canonical book of 



17 

Lamentations formed the basis of the Midrash Echah Rabbathi, in 
which Israel's grief and sorrow, the pathos and tragedy of her last 
and greatest affliction were poured forth by hundreds of writers in 
endless variety of tone. And all, with covert reference to the events 
of the year 70 and not to the ancient times of Nebuchadnezzar. 
Indeed it may be truly said, I believe, that the theme of the 
V3n pnin, in one or other of its aspects, is present in some 
degree in all the Midrashim, unless perhaps the halachic ones. All 
this may be taken for granted. I mean that the fate of Jerusalem 
and the Temple was a source of very deep grief to every Jew, and 
not least to the Pharisees. But in other respects it made less differ- 
ence to the Pharisees than to any other class of the community. 
For, ever since the days of Ezra, they had been learning (whether 
they had realized it or not) to make their religion independent of 
the Temple and its services. The Pharisees as a class had had but 
little share in the management and conduct of the Temple system, 
though the ritual was performed in accordance with their views. 
But the real centre of their religious life was in the Synagogue and 
the School not in the Temple. They had developed a form of reli- 
gion which could be independent of any local sanctuary, any outward 
ritual, and any official priesthood ; a form of religion which laid the 
chief stress not upon the " outward and visible sign," but upon the 
" inward and spiritual grace." To them, therefore, it was not a 
fatal blow to their religion when the Temple was burnt. Beyond 
the grief which it caused, it hardly affected at all their religion or 
their life generally. Whether they ever got so far as to realize that 
they were spiritually better wit/tout the Temple than with it, I do 
know, but it is certain that they were not thrown into confusion 
as if there were an end to their religion. When Johanan ben Zaccai 
was asked what was there to make atonement now that the Temple 
was destroyed, and what could take the place of the sacrifices, he 
replied in the well known answer that prayer and charity would 
henceforth take the place of the Temple ritual. A noble answer, 
and conveying a thought which perhaps no one till then had con- 
sciously formulated. But it was only putting into words what had 
been the unspoken principle underlying the teaching and religious 
life of the Pharisees, and indeed of all Israel outside of and apart 
from the Temple. When once Johanan ben Zaccai had declared, 
in that answer, the future policy for Israel, it seems to have been 



i8 

accepted immediately without challenge by the rank and file who 
looked to him as their leader. There has not in fact been, so far 
as I know, any inclination to dispute the validity of that declaration ; 
and, if the Temple with its ritual were at some future time to be 
restored, Israel could not now disown the noble religion which has 
been her inspiration, her refuge and strength in all the centuries 
since the Temple fell. 

The first effect then, or one main effect, of the destruction of 
Jerusalem upon the religious nature and life of the Pharisees was 
to teach them by practical experience and no longer by theory alone, 
that religion was not bound up with any outward condition of place, 
or time, or person, or ritual. And in this, there would be no difference 
between Apocalyptists and Rabbinists. At least, I do not know if 
the Apocalyptists expressed any other view than this which I have 
ascribed to all Pharisees, as to the loss of the Temple. 

But what had the Rabbis to say upon the problem which so 
sorely perplexed the Apocalyptists ? The question how the great 
disaster to Israel was to be reconciled with faith in God ? And what 
had they further to sa}' about the task which awaited Israel in the 
future ? They had one answer which met both those questions, 
and that was the study and practice of the Torah. As a reply 
to the question of the Apocalyptists ' How was the fate of Israel to 
be reconciled with faith in the God of Israel,' the)^ took the ground 
that the ways of God were unsearchable ; they did not know why 
it had pleased Him so to deal with the people who had certainly 
tried to serve him. Something might be discerned, from pondering 
on the past sins of Israel, and especially the wickedness of her rulers 
and the chief priests in the later times. But when all was taken 
into account, it remained a mystery which they could not penetrate. 
They could see, however, in the teaching of the Apocalyptists, how 
speculation of that kind led to despair, and only weakened instead 
of strengthening those who indulged in it. And so far as I know, 
the Rabbis did not in the early centuries after the fall of Jerusalem 
ever attempt to give (as the Apocalyptists had given) a positive 
answer, in terms of the Divine Providence, to the question raised by 
the fate of Israel. They were as well able to deal with it as the 
writer of IV Ezra or any of his fellows. But they would not. They 
said in effect (I do not know if they ever said in so many words) : 
' We do not know why all this has been sent upon Israel. We do 



19 

not seek to know. For us it is enough to say as Job said, ' Though 
He slay me, yet will I trust in Him. 

By itself, that severe and sublime martyrdom of faith would 
not have sufficed to keep Israel alive. No nation and no individual 
could have endured for long bearing such a burden upon his heart 
and mind with no release from the strain, and the Rabbis found what 
they needed for their own well-being and that of their countrymen 
in devotion to the Torah. The position they took was this : 
" Here are we, the remnant of Israel in sore distress, exposed to all 
ravages of war, poverty, misery, suffering. When it will end, 
or how it will end, and why it has come about, we do not 
know. Doubtless, God will put an end to it in His own good time. 
But meanwhile His Will is to be done. He has given us the Torah, 
the written and unwritten revelation bestowed on Israel, offered 
indeed, to all nations, but accepted only by Israel. Our task is to 
learn His Will and do it in this present time ; that is the one 
thing which cannot fail us. The Torah is our " stronghold, firm 
and sure." To ponder the Divine revelation given to us in the 
Torah, is to find what will strengthen our faith, renew our hope, and 
to put into the acts of life what we learn in the Torah, is the duty 
which is for the present time required of us." So I interpret the fact 
that the strength of Israel in the centuries immediately following 
on the year 70, was spent on building up the great fabric of the 
Talmud and the Midrash, a literature like no other that the 
world has even seen. Of course I know that the study of 
Torah was far older than the year 70, and that in its 
Rabbinical form it started with the work of the Sopherim. 
But it is none the less true that the greater part of the 
work was done after the year 70, and began immediately 
after that year. We read, indeed, of the Beth Shammai, and the 
Beth Hillel, about the beginning of the common era, and are given 
to understand that these rival schools debated much concerning 
the interpretation of Torah. But how little of what has come 
down to us, can be be definitely ascribed even to Hillel, whose 
name stands so high, and whose influence was doubtless so great. 
How much less can be traced to Shammai, or even to their 
followers as such ? But when Johanan ben Zaccai began to teach 
in Jabueh, he continued, perhaps, what he had done before, but 
it DOW had a different significance and a different effect. The 



20 

assembly at Jabneh, as later that at Usha and that in Tiberias, 
built up by patient labour and sheer hard-thinking, a great fabric 
of positive precept, intended to declare the will of God (as revealed 
in the Torah) upon every occasion and detail of life. It is no 
accidental coincidence that this detailed study of Torah, with this 
result, began immediately after the fall of Jerusalem, and still less 
was it a poverty of soul which led Israel's teachers to devote 
themselves at that time especially to the minute and detailed study 
of the Torah. It was a faith strong enough to reject the dismal 
wailing of the Apocalyptists and to choose the harder task of serv- 
ing God to the uttermost, with heart and soul and strength. And 
there must have been some relief for sad hearts and sorely tried 
faith, in that strict attention to minute details of Halachah which 
has so often provoked the jeers of the ignorant Gentile, and which 
can even now move a man (who ought to have known better) to 
lament that the Pharisees should have given themselves over all but 
wholly to a legalistic conception of religion. This is not true, because 
side by side with the Halachah there is Haggadah ; strict precept 
is accompanied by appeals to the heart and the imagination. But 
even if the Halachah had been the only product of the Pharisaic 
genius in the sad years after the fall of Jerusalem, that would have 
been no ground for charging Israel with default from a high ideal. 
And by the time that the visions of the Apocalyptists had faded 
away, and their dismal laments had sunk into silence, there was 
given to Israel the Mishnah, as the fruit of the toil of her wise 
men in their schools, the piety of her teachers ; the Mishnah, a 
book rugged and severe like a granite block, and fit to serve as 
the corner-stone of that " Temple not made with hands," which 
enshrined the religion of Israel and kept it safe through the 
centuries. 

But Halachah was not the only object to which Pharisaic 
zeal was devoted. While the Rabbis rightly held that the supreme 
need of the time was to be met by study of the Torah, and practice 
of its precepts, they knew that there were other forms in which 
the revealed teaching of God could be, and needed to be, brought 
home to the mind and heart of His people, besides the discipline 
of strict commandment. 

In the Haggadah they developed the more emotional side of the 
Torah, and by allegory and parable, by play of imagination, by 



21 

humour and pathos, by every kind of mental gift that could be made 
to serve the purpose of edification, they sought to teach, to help, to 
comfort, to encourage, to do everything for the spiritual welfare 
of their countrymen that religious leaders and guides could do. 

There is in the Haggadah as much weird fantasy as there is in 
any Apocalypse, and there is none of the morbid brooding that 
borders on despair. There is nothing morbid about the Haggadah. 
In form, it differs widely from the Apocalyptic vision, yet the 
difference may not be so wide as appears at first sight. It may 
be that the Haggadah sprang from the same mental source as the 
fantastic imagery of the Apocalypse, but that it is treated differ- 
ently, because the object was different, and the spiritual outlook 
of its authors was different. Apocalypse always tends to pessimism. 
Haggadah is always optimist, if it be optimism that keeps fast 
hold of trust in God whatever happens. 

I do not illustrate all this. I am only concerned to bring out 
as clearly as I can, what I believe to be the true interpretation of 
the developments of Pharisaism and Judaism, after the fall of 
Jerusalem. It is far indeed from the truth to say that Pharisaism 
declined in spiritual power, became after 70, a poorer and weaker 
thing, because it set its face against the Apocalyptic teaching, and 
gave its whole strength to the learning of God's truth and the doing 
of His will. Israel learned from her wise men to bear patiently 
the hard blows which fell upon her, the age-long burden of sorrow 
and suffering which was her appointed lot. She learned from them 
to keep with unconquerable firmness, her trust in God. She cared 
not that her ways made her the object of Gentile contempt and 
mockery. If they liked to scoff, let them scoff. She had her 
heavenly gift of the Torah, committed to her, and she found rest 
unto her soul in studying, and ever studying, what God had given 
her, learning day by day and year by year, more diligently to fulfil 
His commands, and delighting no less to meditate upon His other 
teaching, to see visions and dream dreams of holy things such 
as no Apocalyptist ever would understand or care for. So Israel 
was helped to survive the great shock which was inflicted by the fall 
of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple, and the later calam- 
ity which completed the ruin in 135. By methods which few but 
her own people have ever known, and still fewer have understood, 
her wise men they rather than the Apocalyptists the true successors 



22 

of the prophets of the olden time, and working in the same spirit 
though in different ways, saved the life of Israel as a religious 
organization, a factor in the development of the higher life 
of humanity, which humanity could never do without. And 
whatever may have been the condition of the Jewish people 
in the times before the fall of Jerusalem and the loss of the Temple, 
the effect produced by that event upon that Pharisaism which was 
the chief, if not the only survivor, was to raise higher the courage, 
and make stronger the faith of the martyr-nation of the world. 
To those who then suffered and endured, who were "smitten down 
but not destroyed " who served God in their daily toil, and learned of 
His will in the time that remained to them, to those Pharisees 
who have never been allowed to shake off the ill name that has clung 
to them through the centuries, to them it is due that Israel has 
survived and has brought down from out the past the treasure 
committed to her, and that Israel still lives to fulfil whatever task 
may be, in time to come, allotted to her in the inscrutable 
providence of God. 



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